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Whitby's winners go nuclear

Nick Hilborne talks to the teenagers who will represent young Britain at the G8 summit in St Petersburg.

Eight talented, politically aware 14-year-olds from Whitby in North Yorkshire will be flying to Russia in July to join the G8 summit of world leaders.

The teenagers from Caedmon school, an 11-14 secondary, will take with them a set of policies on some of the big issues, such as energy and education, that will be discussed at the summit.

And they have not shied away from controversy. They are backing Tony Blair's positive stance on nuclear power, agreeing with the Prime Minister that it will be needed in the future.

"We were taking a bit of a risk in backing nuclear power, but we were concerned about climate change," said Dan Hartas, a team member. "There are so many people in the world who do not have what they need. It's sad that things have to be this way."

The Year 9 students will join teenagers from the other G8 countries at the "J8" in St Petersburg, where they will help to draft a joint communique to hand to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.

The other countries sending teenagers to J8 are Canada, the United States, Japan, Russia, France, Germany and Italy.

In its communique, the Italian J8 delegation concluded: "We were all born in 1989. While we were seeing the sky for the very first time, down below that famous wall - or may we say a whole world? - brick by brick, was collapsing.

"By now, like us, the world is an upset teenager who does not know who he or she is going to become."

The UK team has taken a more practical approach and demanded that all school-leavers should get the chance to work in developing countries.

Naomi Russell, who said she was very excited to be going to St Petersburg, wants to travel to Africa when she leaves school to help teach children about their rights. "Everyone should have a primary education," she said.

"Otherwise they can't get a job, or read and write."

Sheila Sloan, head of geography at Caedmon, said the students researched issues over the Christmas holidays, and then worked in pairs to reach conclusions.

Pupils at the school were also given a special insight into the Russian view of the world from Natalia, the Russian wife of their history teacher Russell Hooper.

Mrs Hooper recorded English-speaking satellite broadcasts from Russia Today, which puts a Russian spin on world events. Equipped with this inside information, the Caedmon team triumphed over more than 200 other teenagers across the UK.

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